Today I took a trip down to Blackmagic’s big product demo event that was held in Los Angeles, eager to get my hands on the new 4K and Pocket Cameras. As many of the readers of this blog already know, both cameras were initially announced to be released this July, and as we’re nearing the end of the month I had a feeling Blackmagic may have an announcement or two up their sleeve. There was no such announcement, but that was okay as I really was just looking forward to testing out the new cameras.
So first – my thoughts on the Pocket Camera.
In it’s current state, the Pocket Camera feels finished and ready to be released. The build of it is solid, the menu’s and other functionality work just as you would imagine. And in general, if you’re coming from a BMCC EF or MFT model, this will be VERY familiar to you. Although I knew the menu and functionality of the camera were nearly identical to the BMCC, it really was funny to tinker with them side by side as the pocket camera feels like a baby BMCC. It would be nice if it also had a touch screen, as the navigation isn’t quite as fast as the the larger models, but I’m sure it’s something that can be gotten used to quickly.
Blackmagic had it fitted with a lumix 7-14mm lens, as they likely wanted to show that the camera can in fact capture a nice wide angle. And that it did! As you can see from these photos, they actually had a model sitting in the demo area that you could film with the cameras. A nice added touch as it felt less clinical that most camera demos. In the photo below, the lens was at 14mm.
What I was happiest with in general about the Pocket Camera was the fact that it clearly felt like it was a camera you could run and gun with. The small form factor coupled with the active MFT mount and amazing codecs are the key selling points of course. A nice added touch for me though, was the rear LCD. While it wasn’t completely a matte finish, it did seem to be much less reflective than the BMCC screen. It’s also quite sharp. Granted I was viewing this indoors, but I did attempt to wash it out with additional light and it seemed to hold up well. Ultimately, that is exactly what I want this camera to do. Work right out of the box for low-key, run and gun situations where you don’t want it on a rig. The second you’re going to rig it up, you’re likely better off going with the BMCC or 4K model as you’ll have the added resolution that you may need. That said, feature films have been shot on cameras of far, far lower quality than this one, so if you don’t mind rigging such a small camera, this could easily function as an A camera on indie sets.
Next up is the 4K Model.
Again, exactly what I expected. The body of course is an identical design to the original BMCC, with the exception of the 4K badge on the front. The image out of it looked absolutely fantastic. It was hooked up to a high resolution broadcast monitor and it truly looked stunning. Then again, so did the pocket camera and the original BMCC, so it didn’t by any means blow the other cameras out of the water. It matched the look of the other two more closely than I would have imagined considering it uses a completely different sensor, which I was very happy about. The image felt slightly more punchy, but that could have easily been a result of the settings on the monitor. Also, the focus “peaking” has a green-ish color to it, which I found nice as it’s more functional than the current peaking function on the original BMCC. Not sure if this will change with firmware updates on the older cameras though.
The only negative thing I can say about the camera was the firmware felt somewhat incomplete. This of course will change with time, but for some reason I had it in my head that they might be showcasing some new firmware today.
Once I had time to play with the cameras for a while I asked two different reps about shipping. Ultimately what I was told was that the pocket camera was physically ready to be shipped (as in the bodies are ready), but they aren’t shipping it to retailers yet. The reason being that apparently there are still some kinks to work out with the firmware, and that has held them up. I was also told that they hope to have this resolved in the coming days and they will likely ship in small numbers over the next few weeks. And afterwards in larger quantities.
In regards to the 4K camera, it sounded like it was about a month behind the schedule of the Pocket Camera. Seemingly, the 4K model may start to ship in smaller quantities toward the beginning of September or so.
Keep in mind, this is not any sort of inside info from Blackmagic. I’m simply going off of what I was told by the reps. They could be ready earlier or later, but this is what I’ve heard so far.
So although I had it in my head that today’s event might coincide with the release of a new firmware, or an announcement that the first shipment had been made, I’m now more eager than ever to get my cameras. Especially the Pocket Cam. Hopefully this years wait isn’t nearly as long as last years, and I highly doubt it will be, even though things are little bit behind schedule. All I know is that the cameras will be worth the wait, and that Pocket Camera is going to make a big splash! For more on the new cameras, check out my write up on Why The Pocket Camera Will Be More Disruptive Than The 4K Production Camera.